Digital CEOs Launch SoDA at SXSW

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AUSTIN, TX -- CEOs from four major digital agencies used their panel on Sunday at South by Southwest Interactive to launch the Society of Digital Agencies, intended to bring about best practices in a rapidly evolving marketing landscape.

The group, which currently has a membership of 18 digital agencies, aims to leverage its members' industry experience to share knowledge on how best to do business on digital projects with brand clients, agency clients and competitors, while also focusing on ethics and guidelines.

"There's a bigger opportunity to share knowledge with the rest of the industry," says Steve Wages, CEO, Juxt Interactive and SoDA member. "This is a really young industry, it really has no succinct direction or guiding group. Right now, we're intending to be the worldwide voice of this profession."

Around 60 attendees at a panel titled "Awards - Do We Lose by Winning?" heard the announcement of SoDA's formation at the talk's start, along with the news that body had developed a two-year commitment to a co-promotion and sponsorship deal with Adobe.

SoDA is chaired by Richard Lent, CEO of AgencyNet and the group's executive director is Stephen Kennedy, a former software developer. Membership is currently on an invite-only basis, but the founders say they'll consider many different types of shops, from large firms to smaller design and production shops.

In addition to publishing information on how its members are working and how they expect to be worked with, SoDA founders say they'd be looking to assume a role in the process of determining criteria for interactive awards shows, as well as developing educational road shows explaining to clients how their businesses work.

The founders say they're looking to build guidelines to help digital shops avoid now-common practices like wildly varying RFPs and requests for site builds without sufficient time or spec work and comps with little or no remuneration. Despite the current restrictions on membership, founders say solutions developed by SoDA will be shared throughout the interactive community.

"We fully intend that everything we do is a contribution to the entire industry and all boats rise," says Jay Wolff, president of Odopod.

Founding member agencies include AgencyNet, Big Spaceship, Blitz Agency, Domani Studios, Exopolis, Firstborn Multimedia, Grupo W, iChameleon Group, IQ Interactive,Juxt Interactive, Lightmaker, Mind Comet, Odopod, Schematic, Struck Design, WDDG, WhittmanHart and 360i.

We caught up with SoDA founding members and Kennedy after the announcement to hear the specifics about their new venture; read the whole Q&A conversation.
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